Should I Use Studded Winter Tires?

Tire StudsWhen I was posted to Fort St. John detachment, the decision was easy, our family car had four studded winter tires. Once I was transferred to Penticton, these tires went with the car when we traded it in and we used all season tires throughout the year.

Now that we live on Vancouver Island, we've come full circle and just purchased a set of four studded winter tires. Compared to the rest of the province, much of the lower mainland and Vancouver Island might be considered almost tropical in the winter months. Why would one even consider using winter tires instead of all season tires, much less invest in tire studs for them?

It turns out that studded tires can be very useful. Tests conducted in Finland in 2003 on a variety of winter road surfaces using a number of major tire brands found that studded winter tires were superior to studless winter tires or all season tires in all conditions including, ice, snow, slush and wet pavement. They failed in only one area, running quietly on dry pavement.

The most deceptive winter driving condition is black ice. It is under these very treacherous conditions, when drivers are unknowingly driving close to the limit of adhesion, that the extra friction provided by studded tires can prove to be a real life saver. Does this sound like all roads anywhere in British Columbia at some time during the winter?

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Your story on studded tires, although a good idea is certainly out of date. As you publish representing ICBC and in turn, all British Columbians, make sure your research is up to date. The research you quote is certainly dated and with the new tire compounds with tires changing from ice or snow to combined in most, if not all cases give a much better control and braking parameters. "About 70 percent of Swedes drive on studded tires in winter -- but some Swedish tire experts have been getting better results lately from improved studless tires, which use porous rubber (crisscrossed with thousands of tiny cuts, known as sipes) to stick to the ice. Sweden is considering a ban on studded tires in cities, where they're accused of tearing up the roads and polluting the air with asphalt dust. " Found here. Not hard to find, so please this article reads like a mountie wrote it, not a great researcher, do ya think?

Everyone please note, I do NOT represent ICBC, nor do I represent the provincial government or all British Columbians. I run the site as a hobby and am careful to point out in both the About DriveSmartBC and Disclaimer that although I do my best, being human, I may make errors and omissions. I also point out that this is a community oriented web site, inviting comments like this one from visitors in order to provide a more complete viewpoint on the topic. dosouth provides information that is cutting edge, and having read the link that was provided, my attention was drawn to "However, other Scandinavian experts still get the best ice grip with studded tires -- and most agree that some studded tires are necessary to chew up the ice so that studless tires can stick." So let's not get the idea from the comment that the original article is out of date and that studded tires are no longer the best answer to winter traction.

I find your comment totally lacking any common sense for 2 reasons. Sniped vs Studded, you claim sniped tires are better at gripping? Where is this study that defies logic & physics? What a totally false statement. 2nd,,, where is this other study that asphalt dust causes more polution than spinning your tires and burning more fuel? Although sniped tires are good for a certain amount of added grip, there is a night and day difference on ice & black ice by having studs.

In reply to by Class1 Driver (not verified)

Hey there Class 1 Driver, I've seen a few of your posts here recently, and obviously you have a fair amount of knowledge and experience too.  Heck, I'm a Class 1 Driver myself, as it happens.

Can I offer a suggestion, and please don't take this the wrong way.  This here Drive Smart BC site is run, so far as I can tell, for the purposes of providing accurate, helpful information for drivers in this province.

There are lots of internet sites, forums, etc that seem geared to encouraging argument and discord between members; perhaps the anonymity of the contributors encourages them to spew vitriolic, personal comments and personal attacks?  Not too sure about that, but I am sure that Drive Smart BC is genuinely focused on helping out all who visit, whether or not they're signed up members and contributors.

I'm only saying this, with respect to your previous post, the bulk of which is directed at someone you don't know, who put it on the site six years ago, presumably in the hope of aiding the discussion.

Seems to me that almost all tires except slicks are manufactured with sipes (a Snipe is a bird) these days, and have been for some time.  There's an informative article on their development, here.

My understanding of sipes - and I'm referring to the ones that are built into the tread blocks at the time of manufacture - is that they can contribute to breaking the surface tension of standing water, encouraging the flow and dissipation through the treads, thus preventing or reducing hydroplaning.

However, they can also help the tread blocks to move - particularly in a winter tire, of course - and assist grip in that way.

I can't imagine though that having sipes in the tire would be nearly as effective as studs, when it comes to running in icy conditions.  Only studs can actually dig into the surface to obtain grip in harsh winter conditions.


Yes Siped not sniped, I didn't even catch my spelling mistake after proof reading,, but I never claimed to be an english professor, I.m simply a professional driver,,,, And yes it was directed at dosouth from years back. But I see YOU missed what I was saying, and that is if you read my comment again, that there is a night & day difference between siped tires vs studded tires, I am stating that studs have a far better grip on ice and black ice, where as dosouth was climing siped tires are better, that's why I said "seriously" I have Winter Blizzack siped tires which are good but they would be even better if I got them studded, but I only use them in winter as winter tires are not good for traction above 7C, the rubber compound isn't designed for higher temperatures, but I adjust my winter driving so I am just fine. So Thanks for pointing out my spelling error:-)

The Laws of Physics apply. Tire manufacturers and those who fund the stuides can manipulate the statistics to make their point that studdless winter tires are just as good as studded tires.  The fact is and the science (physics) behind it say otherwise.  

One has to remember that there is typically a hidden agenda in dismissing sudded tires.  For example, if a snow tire, the cheapest snow tire can be the best snow tire out there when you add studs to it. It only costs you an additional $20 or so to make this improvement. Compare this to the cost of one studless snow tire where it will run you several hundred dollars or more a piece.